After his high profile move in the off-season, is LeBron James living up to the hype given to his West-Coast move to LA?
One of the worst kept secrets in recent NBA history, a move from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Los Angeles Lakers saw King James hit the headlines again.
After missing out in the NBA finals to the Golden State Warriors again just a year after picking up his third NBA title, LeBron headed to the City of Angels last July to try and revive a famous franchise’s hopes of another championship ring.
Rebuilding a franchise
Since they picked up their last NBA championship in 2010, the Lakers have only finished a positive win record in two of the seven completed seasons, a shocking stat for a team with 16 NBA titles.
The Lakers board did everything they could last summer to compile a team to compete to win the league, starting with LeBron and coming through with Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee acquisitions to name a few, but missing out on other key targets such as Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler left them more unequipped than they’d have hoped, leading to an over-reliance on star-man LeBron.
Still on top
Through the 34 games LeBron has played this season, he’s averaging his lowest minutes per game ratio at 34.6, one minute less than his lowest season average. Not alarmingly different, and it could be solely down to squad rotation and game management, but could it also be pointing towards the start of the inevitable decline?
His key stats are still above and beyond what you’d expect from a 15-year veteran, and still put him comfortably within the top five players in the league.
He’s averaging 27.3 points per game, joint-fifth highest in the league, with a field goal percentage of 51.8% and three-point percentage of 35.6%. He’s still averaging 8.3 rebounds per game, and picking up 7.1 assists each meet-up too, stats which sit him 32nd and 12th on the respective lists. Not bad all round stats for a forward.
In comparison to previous seasons, he’s down on most averages, but even for the super-human LeBron, that needs to be expected.
He’s still only averaging just over four points per game less than in his most prolific scoring season back in 2005 for the Cavs’, which is incredible considering he’s averaging just over six points more per game than in his breakout rookie year, when the hype surrounding him was at its peak.
His complete performances haven’t gone unnoticed, with Lebron still third favourite to finish as the regular season MVP at 7/1, only behind current MVP James Harden, 6/4, and the ‘Greek Freak’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, 2/1.
Injury hampers chances?
Unfortunately for the Lakers, an injury to their superstar in December left them to rue not pushing harder for squad depth and more star players, with the team falling from fourth in the division to eighth. They won just two of their seven games played in the three weeks LeBron was absent.
The aim for LeBron and the Lakers should be to just reach the playoffs. They’re in a division with the Golden State Warriors, the reigning champs who are widely fancied to retain their title.
The Lakers sit as 20/1 third-favourites for the Pacific Division and 12/1 third-favourites for the Western Conference, but they’re still amongst the favourites to win the title at 20/1 sixth-favourites.
It’s hard to say whether LeBron James has been an outright success so far, you’ll know by the end of the season, but if he can take the Lakers back to the playoffs for the first time in six years, it’ll be fair to say he’s getting on pretty well on the West-Coast.
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